Sunday, January 16, 2011

just a little ripple...

Many thanks to my good friend, Elizabeth (for demonstrating), and a perfect stranger, Lucy (who has an AWESOME tutorial on her blog), for helping me learn to crochet a ripple.  

I'm two days into working on this blanket and already I'm LOVING IT!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

12-of-12: January 2011

I just visited my 12-of-12 set from January 2010
Then I checked out January 2009.
Seems the 1st month of the year is snowy, dark, and either lazy or sick.
This year isn't much different.
 Well, except one thing...
Today was day-2 of my new adventure.  Here's what my new digs look like....
and inside...
... now I know things look VERY sparse at the moment. 
It's only my second day, so I haven't brought any fun personal stuff in yet. 
But I will.  And then maybe I'll retake some shots in a future 12-of-12.

It's been pretty snowy the last couple days.  
I think we've seen about half a foot so far this week with more on the way.

Finally home from work (the snow really slowed things down).  
Dogs are fed and now it's my turn. 
I got my favorite salad - Fuji Apple Chicken! 

Jammie time!

For a bit of irony, I give you 'The Biggest Loser' Show & dessert

Kids are just as lazy tonight...

And finally... my newest project... I'm crocheting a blanket/throw... with fun little ripples!

Not a very exciting Wednesday, I know.  But there are other 12-of-12ers out there... 
you should visit Chad Darnell's website to see other (more exciting?) submissions or to learn more so YOU can join in next month.

Stay warm!  See ya in February!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The BBC 100 List

Have YOU read these books?

A couple of months ago, I was tagged on FaceBook to participate in this "experiment".  Earlier this week, my blog-buddy Ticklebear posted the list to his site and challenged others to post as well. 

Below is the list of books from the BBC's "Big Read" - a Top 100 of sorts.  From what I hear, the BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed below.  I'm not sure where this info comes from, but I can attest to the abominably LOW number of books I have heard friends/colleagues say they've read (or not read).  I also found it fun to see how many I could check-off the list.

Here how it goes:
If a title is BOLD, it means I read the book in its entirety.
If a title is ITALICS, it means i started reading, but didn't finish.
If a title is UNDERLINED, it means I saw a movie or other adaptation of the book.
If a title has a plus (+) next to it, I plan to read it soon (in the next year or so).

Here are my results...
1  Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
2  The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte +
4  Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5  To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 
6  The Bible
7  Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8  Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell  +
9  His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10  Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11  Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12  Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13  Catch 22 – Joseph Heller +
14  Complete Works of Shakespeare 
15  Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16  The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17  Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
18  Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger 
19  The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20  Middlemarch – George Eliot
21  Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22  The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
23  Bleak House – Charles Dickens
24  War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25  The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26  Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27  Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28  Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck +
29  Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30  The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Graham
31  Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32  David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33  Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34  Emma – Jane Austen 
35  Persuasion – Jane Austen
36  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37  The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38  Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere
39  Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40  Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne
41  Animal Farm – George Orwell 
42  The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown 
43  One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44  A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45  The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46  Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47  Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood +
49  Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50  Atonement – Ian McEwan
51  Life of Pi – Yann Martel 
52  Dune – Frank Herbert 
53  Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54  Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55  A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56  The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon 
57  A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58  Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60  Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61  Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
62  Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63  The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64  The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65  Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66  On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67  Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68  Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69  Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70  Moby Dick – Herman Melville +
71  Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72  Dracula – Bram Stoker
73  The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74  Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75  Ulysses – James Joyce
76  The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
77  Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78  Germinal – Emile Zola
79  Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80  Possession – AS Byatt
81  A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82  Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83  The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84  The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85  Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86  A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87  Charlotte’s Web – EB White
88  The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89  Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle +
90  The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91  Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92  The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93  The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94  Watership Down – Richard Adams
95  A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96  A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97  The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98  Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl 
100  Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

My totals come to:
Read & Completed:  31
Read & didn't finish: 6
Movie/Adaptations: 21
To-Read List: 6

Not bad!  I've read 5-times as many books as the BBC had expected.  HA!  Take that literary drain on society!  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read my book.  :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Turn the Page... Tuesday

It's amazing how much reading you can get done when you're not working and when the weather is chilly enough that once you're done walking the dogs, you all just want to snuggle up and read.

It's the first Tuesday of the year!  The first Tuesday of January!  So it's the first Turn the Page... Tuesday for 2011.  Don't know what TTP...T is?  Visit Adrienne at Some of a Kind for more info, then join us!

So, on with the reviews...
The first book I read was Jamie Ford's Hotel at the Corner of Bitter & Sweet (photo from Jamie's website).  I hadn't heard of this story till it was suggested for our January Book Club meeting.  I was leery at first, because it was another story about WWII and I was anticipating more of the same.  But, boy, was I pleasantly surprised.

The book could not be more perfectly named - every character, location, and interaction was both "bitter and sweet".  From the family relations (3-generations worth), to the love story, to the social and political story lines, it all made me smile and sigh. 

Before 'Hotel...', I'd never delved into the Chinese-Japanese-American relationships in the United States in the early 40s.  I knew OF the Japanese camps, but not the details; I was aware of the conflicts between the Japanese and Chinese throughout history, but Jamie masterfully took this history and painted on personal faces of this strife & suffering... and triumph (?) in the end of love and tolerance.

When I rate this book at the meeting, I plan to give it a 4 out of 5.  I highly recommend it, it's a good read.

Today, I'm almost finished with Book 3 of the Mortal Instruments trilogy, by Cassandra Clare (photos from her website).  Aimed at young adults, this set is fun, quick, and action-packed.  It revolves around a girl named Clary & her interaction with a race of people called the Shadowhunters, magical "superhumans", protectors of "mundanes" (regular humans) and killers of all things nasty - demons, mainly, but will take out the occasional vampires, werewolf or other beastie, if necessary.

In Book 1, City of Bones, Clary learns of her "Sight" when she meets the local family of Shadowhunters (one of whom is drop-dead gorgeous, but quite arrogant - Edward Cullin, anyone?).  Poor Clary's world changes SO dramatically in just a few short days after seeing her 1st Shadowhunter - her mom is kidnapped, she's attacked by demons, she has to negotiate with vampire and so much more.  Like I said - action packed - and a fun twist on the "alternative reality" genre.  I jumped right into Book 2.

Book 2 is filled with destruction and mayhem... for everyone.  Everything that everyone has thought was true has been shattered and they're seeking the truth.  Valentine is back and he's systematically draining the blood from each of the races (warlock, vampire, fae, and werewolf) to complete his evil plan.  He must be stopped!
Throw in a little teen love and forbidden love and you got yourself another lightning read.

Finally, here I am in the middle of Book 3.  Clary is trying to save her mom who is in a coma.  There's a new man in her life - who I suspect is evil.  And now the city is burning.  There are only a couple hundred pages left... I'm excited to see how this will all wrap up in the end.
I hope the good guys will win, but will there be a twist?  Will Clary end up with Jace?  Will Simon save the day?

This has been a fun couple weeks - breezing through an easy read in a world so different from mine.  Its been a nice visit, but I'll be happy to come back to reality soon.  I think.

What I should read next?  I got Larrson's Millennium Trilogy and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for Christmas, so maybe I'll pick up one of them.  I'm also learning to crochet, so maybe I'll take a reading break and work on my Double Crochet stitch.  NAH, I can do both!

Happy New Year!  Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


See... told ya I was learning!

Welcome 2011!

2010 is now just a memory.  But, wow, was it filled with some interesting stuff! 

I'll begin with my most memorable moment.  About a year ago, the hubby and I started contemplating a vacation.  A REAL vacation... travel to a far away place, staying for about a week, with no people, no work, no cell phones.  We found it at Sequoia National Park and the surrounding area.  It was the most perfect experience - perfect weather, perfect food, perfect hikes, a perfect "honeymoon".  We're trying to think of where to go next that might compare to this adventure.  It's gonna be tough.

We spent a lot of time doing other mini-vacations & day trips, also to some pretty cool spots - The southern coast of Massachusetts, Woodstock, Zoar Valley, and Allegany State Park.  You can see pictures of many of these trips in earlier blog posts.

Twenty-Ten was also the year of The Triathlon.  I think it was February when my coworker asked me to join her in participating in a sprint-distance triathlon.  I remember thinking "Oh, no.  I don't run.  I can't do that." (biking and swimming, no problem.)  Then she says "the run is ONLY a 5K" and the gears start turning.  "Maybe I could do this. It might be a fun challenge.  I'm in pretty good shape and I have till July to train."

SURE!  I'll do it.

The rest is history.  If you've followed this blog for any length of time, you know what happened.  You know of my injury in June and my lackluster performance at the Tri.  But since that day, I think I've worked out the bugs:  the bike is fixed, I'm running 3.1 miles at least once a week, and I'm excited to try again.  This year, the event is July 2nd... exactly 6-months from today.

So, what's the plan for 2011?

Well, first thing I need to focus on is getting a job.  Yes, after 3-years of surviving multiple layoffs from my company (every 6-months), I finally fell to the largest downsizing the company has ever had.  1400 sales people were let go in December, including me. 
But, ya know what?  I'm okay with it. 
It has given me a chance to explore new avenues and (hopefully) find a new career that I'm going to love.  I have not been passionate about my work in a long time - I'm SO ready to get that back.

Fitness is going to remain high on the list of "to dos" for 2011.  I have a treadmill now and an indoor bike trainer, so I never have to worry about weather or darkness again, if I don't want to (and I can no longer use either as an excuse not to work out).  I'm working on a plan to keep healthy and strong and be totally ready for the Tri in July (and maybe some other events in between).  I'm working on building my running to 8K (5-miles) at a time so that the 5K is a piece of cake.

As for the blog... I'll try to post every couple weeks (if not more), especially if there noteworthy stuff to blog about.  I'm going to continue participating in a couple of monthly blog-related events like... the photo-snapping 12-of-12 and virtual book club Turn the Page... Tuesday.  Who knows, maybe there's something else out in the blog-o-spehere that I should join for yet another reason to blog?  We'll see.

Finally, I am also leaning to crochet, so you might see a crocheted craft or two here in 2011.  I have a number of pregnant friends who all need blankets, so the craftiness will definitely be out there... you'll see those posted here once each project is done.

All-in-all, I think 2010 was a pretty good year despite some disappointments (can't be perfect, right?).  I'm hoping that 2011 is just as good or better - good health, good friends, good times.